Sociology The developing world, brought to you by the corporation: It’s a scene Anton Lawrence Allahar believes we may soon see.
The sociology professor at the University of Western Ontario delivered his lecture Why Is The Whole World Not Developed last Sunday on TVOntario’s Big Ideas as part of that programs ongoing Ontario’s Best Lecturer series.
“It is an amazing honour to represent my school,” Allahar laughs. “I was tickled pink when I first heard it. It is however, very daunting. My shoulders aren’t broad enough to carry that sort of responsibility, but my anxiety is curbed by the format in which the lectures are being presented.”
Allahar is passionate about the subject, and has a few theories on why, in an industrial and technologically advanced world, many countries are still catching up. History and climate may play a factor: Warmer countries with accessible resources have not had to struggle to survive in the same way as populations living in colder climates — resulting in more advancement through a greater effort.
In modern times, Allahar argues that the advancement of the developing world will be dependent on the corporate sector, which largely controls resources in those nations and provides jobs for the people living there.
“What these companies are also doing is introducing a set of modern values that didn’t exist in their traditional cultures,” Allahar adds.
“We live in a society where individualism and self-efficacy is valued. Determining the self is linked with an entrepreneurial spirit and material wealth. You see this in the products that we buy: iPods, iPhones, etc. That’s modern culture.”
While it does lead to advancements, Allaher notes there’s a moral price to pay.
The impact of a consumer society on altruistic or humanist values can certainly be felt.
“We do have to examine our moral compass, these questions of business ethics and morality,” he said.
“Most are loyal to their money. So, if putting people out of work maximizes an investor’s profit, chances are people will be put out of work.”